Having enjoyed all of the Marvel movies to date (especially Iron Man onwards), I was looking forward to this film, but not quite as much as a lot of others seemed to be. I’ve been far more excited about Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises and Brave, but this has proven to be everything I hoped it could be and more.
Writer/director Joss Whedon has a proven track record when it comes to dealing with ensembles, big-named or not, and uses the same sharp wit seen in Firefly and Buffy here. He realises that this film has no one star, and it’s the interactions that make the characters who they are.
Iron Man should be the obvious star, the ego-maniac with the sharp tongue, but he doesn’t get to steal the limelight. Hawkeye and Black Widow get something to do here; the former is simply a flawless archer with a quiver of tricks, the latter a manipulator, an expert at extracting information under the guise of weakness. With Buffy-esque kick-ass skills to boot. Captain America is the grounding force, all sincerity and concern, a true soldier, lost in the future. Thor is the pretty-but-dim alien who feels responsibility for protecting Earth from his brother’s machinations, whilst still feeling that sibling bond.
Which brings us to the Big Bad, Loki. After a (ahem) low-key presence in the Thor movie, the prospect of his return as the villain did not excite me. Yet Whedon has somehow managed to make Loki threatening. Not by beating anyone up, or smashing things, but by simpy lighting the blue touch paper of conversation and retreating to watch the fireworks with malicious glee.
One of my favourite moments in the film- blink and you’ll miss it- is when a few of the heroes pause to rescue a group of people out of a bus before returning to the carnage. And it suddenly dawned on me what the superhero films since Superman II have been missing. The human victims. The people. It doesn’t matter how bad the evil villain(s) is/are if we don’t properly see the consequences. It’s a nice touch that wasn’t lost on me.
If there is a stand-out character, a star of the show, it’s The Hulk. Apparently Joss Whedon was quoted as saying that his aim was for people to exit excited for the next Hulk movie. Given the previous two Hulk instalments have done the opposite, it’s an unexpected delight to state that he’s succeeded. The CGI may not have improved, but Hulk’s impulse to “smash” certainly gets the film’s two biggest laughs.
Avengers is not only an enjoyable action-fest, but also one of the funniest films I’ve seen in years, featuring moments I can’t wait to share with people.
Incidentally, I saw this in IMAX 3D and have to say it didn’t warrant either IMAX or 3D. Just see it, preferably in a packed cinema, as soon as you can. Obviously, you’ll get more out of it if you’ve seen Iron Man, Thor and Captain America beforehand, but I wouldn’t say it’s essential. I’m off to rewatch them now.